There was an overall 57% year-on-year increase in cross-border e-commerce sales in the UK in 2020, according to IMRG. The peak holiday trading period in November experienced a 42% YoY like-for-like surge in international cross-border online sales. This is compared to the same time in 2019.
The data shows a consistent increase in cross-border e-commerce trading from April 2020 onwards. It grew substantially in the run up to the festive trading period. Including a significant spike in cross-border sales starting much earlier in September. This spike remaining strong across the final quarter of the year.
Behaviors of consumers in EU and non-EU destinations
In addition, the data also reveals the shopping behaviors of consumers in EU and non-EU destinations. Non-EU markets seeing higher cross-border sales volumes for most of the year. Whilst consistent with 2019 figures, last year experienced a notable shift from September through December. During this period, EU volumes exceeding non-EU figures, reaching a far more significant peak in the pre-holiday trading period.
This not only suggests higher demand for UK products among EU citizens during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020. EU shoppers are more reactive to the seasonal promotions this year. However, this could have also been accelerated by consumers’ concerns around shopping from their favorite UK brands post-Brexit whilst a deal was still to be agreed.
Consumers return to desktop
Moreover, there was a new shift towards using desktop as a preferred platform for online cross-border purchasing. This is an unusual change. Online sales on mobile devices, including cross-border purchases, have until this point gradually increased since 2018.
This shift is likely the result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The outbreak forced consumers into lockdowns and to commit to remote working and a home-based lifestyle. Therefore, relying less on mobiles and spending more time on desktop devices.
Neil Kuschel, CEO Europe at Global-e, says the increased demand from the EU highlights a strong and growing appetite for UK brands. “Although Brexit has brought some complexity for UK e-commerce retailers selling into the EU, they should not cease trading to the EU as it is a vital channel for growth.”
“Encouragingly, many UK brands who are managing the Brexit complexities internally and ensuring their consumers have a seamless experience, are seeing no change in post-Brexit EU sales. In order to reap the benefits of the growing cross-border opportunity, UK brands and retailers selling online must now treat EU markets in the same way they would any other international market.”